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Tech Tips: Productivity Tools

April 04, 2012

By Jennifer Huck, Systems and Emerging Technologies Librarian

There are so many productivity tools out there, sometimes it is hard to know where to begin.  Never fear!  Here are three well-regarded productivity applications that you might find useful.  These applications all have “cloud” storage in common.  This makes it easy to access and sync your documents or share with colleagues quickly and easily, no matter where you are or what device you are using.

Google Docs: 

Thumbnail image for googleDocs.pngGoogle Docs is a suite of products that allows you to create documents online, including text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and drawings, as well as forms for websites.  You can access your documents as long as you have an Internet connection.  You can share documents with other collaborators, making it an excellent tool for students and faculty working on academic or extracurricular group projects.  The best part is that you can collaboratively edit at the same time and see who is making what changes.  You can also chat live with your collaborators in a sidebar.  Google Docs are also excellent for creating final, polished documents.     Google Docs is available via web login and as an Android app.  Free. 



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Evernote syncs your notes, clips from the web, files, and images from your computer or mobile devices.  You can take a picture with your device and optionally add an audio note for future reference, or save entire websites with their clipper.  Depending on the readability of the handwriting, Evernote can even scan handwritten notes and make them searchable.  You can share your notes with other collaborators and work together.   Evernote is especially good for creating multimedia notes.

Evernote is available via web login, as an iOS, Andorid, Blackberry, or Windows Phone app, downloadable to Mac OS X or Windows, and as a “clipper” plug-in for the Chrome, Firefox, and Safari browsers.  Free for basic, $5 a month for Premium accounts.


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Dropbox allows you to save your files to your Dropbox folder on your computer, or through the app or web login.  Dropbox works even when you are offline.   As with the other productivity tools mentioned here, Dropbox is easy to share with other people.  You can invite collaborators to view your folder and it will feel as though you saved your folder to their computers.  Dropbox is especially useful for moving around larger files that are too large to email to your collaborators. 

Dropbox is available via web login, as an iOS, Android, or Blackberry app, and is downloadable to Mac OS, Windows, or Linux.  Free for basic, starting at $9.99 for Pro accounts.

All of these tools could make excellent tools for personal productivity and collaboration.  These tools are easily available and free (for basic accounts, which go very far), making them useful resources for any student or faculty looking for a way to keep track of materials across computers.  Groups working on academic projects, student associations, or journals might find these tools especially useful.  Try one or try them all!